Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

 All Forums
 Other Banjo-Related Topics
 Shopping Advice
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Entry Level Banjos - Gold Tone versus Deering

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

Mendvil - Posted - 01/25/2011:  17:33:23

So you may get asked this question a thousand times in a month here, but here goes:
I'm starting the banjo, and I've been looking around for a decent sound for a decent price (around 400$). I've tried many brands, and the Gold Tone Cripple Creek (cc50, 270$, haven't had a chance to get the cc100) and Deering Goodtime 1 (380$) seemed the most viable options. Is there any name I should be looking foor in entry level banjos?

Most importantly, I live in Montreal, Canada, which is quite a variable climate: it goes from warm, humid summers to stone-shattering colds in winter, and such, I was wondering if the truss rod was important in such a condition.

Thanks for your help!

richmondgeorge - Posted - 01/25/2011:  17:39:45


Chadbanjo - Posted - 01/25/2011:  17:44:14

Lot of different opinions on those models around here. I can only comment on the goodtime, my first and will be for a long time yet.

Love it, Nice tone very comfortable to play. I had ordered mine from the twelfth fret in Toronto. They set it up for me(not sure exactly what they did but apparently the set up is fine right from deering) and added rail road spikes(very good option). It's tuff reliable work horse.

As far as colder climates, i;m from Newfoundland, have my goodtime in the basement, wood stove going full blast. No problems yet...

cbbolling - Posted - 01/25/2011:  17:51:03

I would go with the Deering. Ive had my goodtime for about 8 years and its still a great banjo. If I were you I would check the classifieds here though and find a used banjo either way you go. You'll save some money and if you decide you hate it you can likely sell it back for what you have invested in it plus since both are starter banjos you will find them for sale quite often.

gshall - Posted - 01/25/2011:  18:03:00

Last time I was in Titusville I stopped in to see the Gold Tone people; they're a good bunch. They are serious about selling good banjos. I've never met the Deering people, but I wouldn't trade my Deering Sierra for every banjo Gold Tone makes (but I say that without having played every banjo they make).

Where I'm going with this is that I don't think you can make a wrong decision. I like cbbolling's solution. Pick one up here used, and if you don't like it, sell it back. Seems like all the major banjo dealers can sell you a Deering for half down. I would probably go with a new one, but I would absolutely have to handle it first.

Good luck. You can tweak your decision - that's always fun - but, like I said, you can't make a wrong one.

me!!! - Posted - 01/25/2011:  18:05:50

also mastercrafts are good banjos for the money

Bizdoc - Posted - 01/25/2011:  18:14:54

I've played both the Gold Tone CC100R Plus and currently own a Deering Goodtime. The Gold Tone has a tone hoop and double coordinator rods, standard banjo tuners, and fret board. Goodtime does not, but is of excellent construction. I find the CC100R Plus to have more volume. Both have good tone. I've enjoyed playing both. The goodtime is just a bit lighter, and is a real pleasure to pick up and play. The Goodtime is one of the biggest sellers of banjos (so I read anyway). I sold my Gold tone, had too many banjos, no other reason, it was a real player also. I still play my goodtime every day. I like it very much. I am down to 2 banjos, both deerings, both are lifetime keepers. Either the CC100 or a Goodtime would suit you well. Both are sometimes difficult to get used. If you can get a used one in good shape I'd take it, at a reasonable price of course. However, if you are SPECIFICALLY considering the CC50 , or the goodtime, go with the Goodtime.

Happy Picking.

kirbonite - Posted - 01/25/2011:  18:27:46

Yes, Goodtime.

Especially the new ones made with the red maple. I'd pay extra and get the tone ring on the goodtime special.

But.. If you're looking for possible setbacks on the goodtime here a few to consider.

The Vega armrest is uncomfortable. (can be remedied with a banjomate armrest from
The Goodtime is and 18 bracket banjo as opposed to the standard 24 bracket (different hex key and I couldn't use my schatten pickup on it)
slightly smaller scale neck but very playable.'
aLL goodtimes have high crown heads... most bangos have medium crown.

that said... If you're learning or sittin round the house.. It's hard to beat a goodtime for ease of playability. And it's almost 100 % american made. I say almost because I believe the gotoh tuners they use are japanese.

good luck pickin

buckskin - Posted - 01/25/2011:  18:35:37

Can't say anything about Gold Tone since I haven't tried them. However I do have a Goodtime and a Eagle II. I have great time playing both of them. I also have a Fender BB55 that I'm thinking of selling, but that's another story. Can't see me parting with my Deering's though.

Welcome to the hangout

12th Fret in Toronto does offer great and fast service.

1four5 - Posted - 01/25/2011:  18:44:19

I've owned both. the CC is long gone and I still play my Goodtime every day.

Mendvil - Posted - 01/25/2011:  18:57:14

Things are definitely leaning towards the Goodtime with the opinions here. I'll see if I can get a good second hand deal, and I'll definitely keep an eye on the classifieds here.

Thanks all for your time and suggestions!

timifill - Posted - 01/25/2011:  19:12:36

I've noticed that folks around here tend to be big fans of the Deering goodtime banjos. It's tough to ignore that consensus, but I've got to say, I've never been that impressed with the goodtimes. They never seemed all that loud to me. I also like the classic banjo look, and with their light wood and different headstock, the goodtimes never really fit with that, but you may not be looking for aesthetic judgments. I own a Gold Tone (a resonator model - I've never played their openbacks and can't comment on them), and I've been impressed with their quality. Like I said, it's tough to ignore the consensus about the Deerings, but I suppose there always has to be one person who disagrees to keep things interesting...

goldtopia - Posted - 01/26/2011:  00:15:14

Gold Tone. Better value for the money and a nice sound. I had one.


kirbonite - Posted - 01/26/2011:  04:29:38

Goodtimes also are a single co-ordinator rod.

I don't necessarily think they are better than the gold tones especially if you're wanting a tone ring ..

I do think they are easy to learn to play on and make nice travel banjos when you're ready to move on.
I'm a bit concerned about how big the deering company is getting. my next banjo probably won't be a deering.


Helix - Posted - 01/26/2011:  04:35:04

It's two different banjos, one a budget, brilliant forethought, no fretboard, tone ring or truss rod. That's the Goodtyme.

The Gold Tone is an Asian partnership banjo, real adult, adjustable, 2 rim rods, truss rod, and fretboard. More features, but you have a Chinese Maple banjo, Maple voice.

The context here is the industry standard Helix Jackrabbit, a bamboo rim and neck, take a look at the website, you can't have one, what's that sound,

Buy the Gold Tone, it's a better offering.

South Hills - Posted - 01/26/2011:  04:56:14

Don't know much about Gold Tone, but they seem to get good reviews. I have a Goodtime as a backup and love. As pointed out in an early post, they do not have a truss rod, but haven't read anything about it being a major problem or reason not to buy one. Recommend you play before you buy. Good luck

Gymbal31 - Posted - 01/26/2011:  06:44:52

Where I take lessons, the shop has both Gold Tones and Deering Goodtimes. I've often sat and played the banjos on the wall there. I never pick up the Gold Tones anymore. They all feel like beginner banjos to me. But I still pick up the Goodtimes because, while they are beginner banjos, they are also fun to play. There have been people in my classes that have bought the cc50 and cc100 but mostly due to price rather than higher quality.

A beginner banjo is a beginner banjo and as long as you can learn to play on it, I don't think it matters what brand you get as long as you are planning on getting something better down the road. But of the two models you mentioned, no question, the Goodtime.

hektic - Posted - 01/26/2011:  08:22:34

I see your from Montreal.

I dont suggest you buy the Goldtone CC50 at Archambault, It looks like its the same one I tried out when I was looking for a banjo about year ago, who knows how long its been there for and what kind of damage it has taken, just look at the strings they are about to fall off (unless they have changed them since, which I doubt) They are all pretty poorly set up there as well.

I bought my Goodtime special (with resonator) off the Classifieds for 400+shipping. If your panning on playing clawhammer (even bluegrass, they only thing is the scoop would be useless) I suggest the modded goodtime for 400$ in the classifieds
I'm actually surprised its still there.

I saw a Goldtone WL also with a scoop on the Quebec classifieds not long ago for 500-600$ that's not a bad deal as well.

I suggest you buy from the classifieds though, most people here know what they are doing and they come set up right. Not like you would find at a big music store like Steve's for example

And you live in a good city for Country, Bluegrass, Old Time and Folk, there's pretty much something happening every night of the week.

eagleisland - Posted - 01/26/2011:  08:42:42

Both the Goodtime and the CC100 are good beginner's instruments. Two of my students have the Gold Tones; one of them is really well set up and it sounds better than it has any right to.

Personally, I prefer the Goodtimes. I think they're pretty much bombproof and, if they're not exactly pretty, they're very well built. I also personally find the neck shape more comfortable.

There's enough of a price difference between them that if price was a significant factor I'd go with the Gold Tone - particularly if you're in the "gee, maybe I'd like to try playing the banjo" stage instead of the "I've always wanted to play the banjo, and now's my chance" stage.

But if the latter, I'd go with the Goodtime, kept as a camping/traveling banjo when you upgrade later on.

wb4yal - Posted - 01/26/2011:  11:59:59

I have a Deering Goodtime and a Gold Tone OB 250. I bought the Deering to take camping and as an all around "take anywhere, travel" banjo. I practice and use the OB 250 to play at jams and I really enjoy that banjo. I wouldn't part with either of these banjos.

stelling man - Posted - 01/26/2011:  16:49:11

Deering, every time..


firemx220 - Posted - 01/26/2011:  17:56:33

DEERING all the way!!!!

Mendvil - Posted - 01/26/2011:  18:05:08

I thank you all (once more) for your opinions. I have found a used Goodtime in my area and I will be going with that. I will be looking around the site for technical and playing advice when I lay my hands on this beaut.

yumagah - Posted - 01/26/2011:  18:49:58

Originally posted by wb4yal

I have a Deering Goodtime and a Gold Tone OB 250. I bought the Deering to take camping and as an all around "take anywhere, travel" banjo. I practice and use the OB 250 to play at jams and I really enjoy that banjo. I wouldn't part with either of these banjos.

Funny, I own the same two instruments. Except my Goodtime is the dark Classic 2 model. And I like both of them for the exact same reasons. Both of these instruments are good values for the money and have US companies that stand behind their products and give support. I would only part with either of them if a better quality lightweight banjo (Goodtime) or masterclone (OB-250) came to me at a great price. Not likely to happen in the near future.

Weird Snake Joe - Posted - 01/27/2011:  11:00:33

I came to the banjo by way of Pete Seeger and Sufjan Stevens. I wasn't going to drop the kind of money to follow Seeger (a long neck), and Sufjan plays cheaper, lower-end models (seen mostly with a Gold Tone CC-100 and a Framus Texan, amongst others). It made my choice pretty simple: CC-100 or Goodtime. I got the Goodtime.

If value is going to be measured by components alone, then the Gold Tone will always win between the two. The neck (probably the best one out there on a budget instrument), the dual rods, the spikes, the hoop, the bracket compatibility, the volume, and the set-up right out of the box really make this thing a good buy. Also, doesn't it run at a cost that's slightly lower than the Goodtime?

Yet, even with the above, were the quality the deciding factor of value, it would be the Goodtime by a long mile. Love or hate the tuners, they are well-made. The tailpiece is probably one of the best on any banjo at any price. The wood quality...can't be touched by any mass-produced line at the price point. I think the tone is better than the Gold's just not louder.

My only real gripe with the Goodtime is the neck tension/action adjustment procedures when paired with that high crown-cut rim. Those who want really low action put the neck and screw slots at risk of warping and stripping respectively if they desire such action. I really only feel comfortable with 1/8" action if I have a 1/2" bridge to begin with; so with the 5/8" bridges I have, I'm hugging that 3/16-1/4" swath. With a tone hoop, I'm at 1/4" with about an added 1/8" lift and am almost unwilling to push it further, unless I'm going with a smaller bridge. Personally, I wish the Goodtime came with a tone hoop (and one that only minimally cleared the lip) to address some of that missing "umph" in volume, but, well, that's not what the Goodtime was designed for. Oh well. Still, the neck bowing thing is one of those things that may make me "outgrow" this thing, or at the very least, make me buy another banjo. Rim cuts, lack of tone ring adaptability, and other factors aside, it's about the only "legitimate" quibble I have with the thing these days. It exceeds my expectations in most every other respect.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories